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Therapeutic Art | Karen Usborne

Therapeutic Art

Therapy in the form of Abstract Expressionism

I never could fathom whether it was due to me favoring the shadows or not but, painting has always felt like a different world to me. One that lacked dimension. Like the more I painted, the more I floated — high on my own creation and this is what I grew up anticipating. For me, the definition of therapeutic art.

The Abstract Expressionism Movement

Being a person who wasn’t good with words, I spent most of my days alone. As a loner, I grew as an artist. Each stroke I painted was a release of pent up anger and anxiety but sometimes the peace and clarity I wish I had. However, in the mist of all that confusion, one thing was clear: the more I painted, the more I healed. And as I grew in abstract expressionism, so did my emotions deepen. This is to me, therapeutic art!

Therapeutic Art

People always have their reasons why they chose their field; it could possibly be something personal, emotional and radical. These particular reasons are my motivation to continue to appreciate my own perception as I continue to indulge myself in my own masterpiece, nature.

As an abstract artist, I have chosen to use rigid contrasting edges to show the effort of my imagination in a unique way. It involves a streak push of every stroke of my brushes as I dig deeper on my soul idea only to use two limited colour to produce a one of its kind definition of my painting. In this kind of activity, I use my rational mind, setting aside every possible emotion that would consume me while I draw every detail of the line; “Universe must be more than this”, and that’s how I always do it.

A Therapy Session Hidden in Each Stroke

Abstract expressionist paintings are not drawn in forms that can be associated with what we can see in the world. Their strokes, shapes and textures are products of spontaneity, a symbol of the painter’s freedom in who they are and how they express their unconscious mind — but at the same time, painting with precise technique and execution. This form of artwork reflects the artists intuitiveness and how they can apply their psychic abilities to heal, restore or even break open perceptions and contemplations.

Abstract Expressionism Uses Three General Approaches to Express Emotion;

1. The first general approach is action painting, which was first used by artists like Jackson Pollock. During this technique, brushstrokes are slashed to show how spontaneously paint can spill and drip on a canvas, with the raw intent of building complexly suggestive linear patterns.
2. The second is a combination of various styles — from delicate, fluid shapes used in Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings to more calligraphic images used in Adolph Gottlieb’s.
3. The third general approach is the least expressive. It utilizes large areas and thin paint to elicit meditative effects on it’s viewer. This approach has been used distinctly in Barnett Newman’s and Mark Rothko’s paintings.

The Hidden Expressions

Different brush strokes bring about a peculiar kind of release for each abstract expressionist; Kline’s aggressive strokes symbolized agitation, Randhart’s revealed misery, De Kooning’s showed fear, whereas Mark Rothko’s were a cry for help. This was for each of them, their own form of therapeutic artistry

Before he committed suicide, Rothko suffered from immense depression and alcohol abuse. When we see his paintings today, we witness the thick darkness that hangs in each work of art, waiting to be noticed. It is said that his paintings are a reflection of his life’s mission of painting abstract embodiments of powerful human emotions like tragedy, doom and ecstasy. His paintings may have done little in healing him, but many have been healed through them. Contact me here or follow me on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date!

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